If you’re looking for a respite from the hustle and bustle, the crowded playgrounds and stuffy museums, unplug with mother nature at the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Wildlife Refuge. This little slice of paradise is only a mile from the highway and nine miles from SF, but feels a world away with its open spaces, stunning vistas and abundant wildlife. There’s even a sweet Victorian for dramatic effect.

When to Go: Year-round, with particularly good bird watching in the winter. Makes for a good morning or afternoon excursion. The Center and Sanctuary is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Getting There: Take 101 to Tiburon Boulevard and head east. After about a mile, turn right on Greenwood Cove Drive. The center will be on your right hand side after half a mile. Look for a black gate and trellis. You can park in the gravel area just off the road.

What to bring: Snacks, layers, sand toys, beach blanket, water shoes and extra clothes. Well-maintained restrooms and a water fountain are situated behind the magnificent Lyford house. If you’re interested in examining some of the resident and migratory birds that rely upon this important preserve extending 900 acres into the bay, bring some binoculars too.

What to do: Start off at Lani’s Beach. Wade in the calm water, skip stones, have a picnic. Enjoy the view. At low tide, look for crabs under rocks or leopard sharks swimming near the shore. Head up to the observation deck behind the beach, where you’ll find a guide you can use to identify birds. Hike the half-mile nature trail loop that starts behind the restrooms, heads up the hill to an overlook with jaw-dropping panoramas and then winds back down to the beach. Sit on some stumps in the shade of an Oak and tell made-up stories. Run, laugh, be merry.

Tips: The nature trail is short, but uphill and not good for strollers. Active preschoolers should do just fine. Grab a guide from the visitor center ($1, to the right when you first enter) that details the plants and animals you might encounter along the hike.

Cost: Free.

Bottom Line: Eleven acres of nature with killer views and wildlife in Tiburon. A great place to get off the grid with the kids (no dogs allowed), explore and imagine.

376 Greenwood Beach Road
Tiburon, Ca 94920
Phone: 415-388-2524
Online: richardsonbay.audubon.org
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Have you explored this outdoor spot with your kids? What was the highlight of your trip?

— Neil Chhabra